Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Rule 6.05(m): Intentional Interference or Crashing the Pivot

Rule 6.05(m) governs the case of runner's intentional interference in an attempt to break up a double play, stating the batter is out when, "a preceding runner shall, in the umpire’s judgment, intentionally interfere with a fielder who is attempting to catch a thrown ball or to throw a ball in an attempt to complete any play."

Rule 6.05(m) Comment reads, "The objective of this rule is to penalize the offensive team for deliberate, unwarranted, unsportsmanlike action by the runner in leaving the baseline for the obvious purpose of crashing the pivot man on a double play, rather than trying to reach the base. Obviously this is an umpire’s judgment play."

Note that Rule 7.08(a)(1)—a runner is out when "he runs more than three feet away from his base path to avoid being tagged"—is a rule change for the 2012 season. Prior to 2012, the bold text read the baseline.

MLB has made the distinction of a runner's personal base path as a direct line between a runner and base established at the time of tag, as opposed to the standard baseline, which is a simple line between bases. This has allowed Rule 7.08(a)(1) to be considered on its own merits and umpires no longer must autonomously decide upon the difference between the two terms. Accordingly, baseline as used in Rule 6.05(m) Comment is not subject to the three-foot provision of Rule 7.08(a)(1).

Case Study: Consider Game 2 of the NLCS between the Cardinals and Giants. (Video: Crash play at 2B)

With two on and one out in the top of the first inning, B1 Allen Craig hit a slow ground ball to shortstop, F6 Brandon Crawford throwing to F4 Marco Scutaro for the force out. As F4 Scutaro attempted to convert the force at second into a double play at first, R1 Matt Holliday barreled into F4 Scutaro, forcing U2 Greg Gibson to consider whether Holliday's act constituted intentional interference by which his action was obviously deliberate, unwarranted and unsportsmanlike. Note that unsportsmanlike and unwarranted are but two criteria of the intentional interference rule.

As for the third, one argument concerning Holliday's foot slipping in advance of second base is plausible and accordingly, it is plausible that Holliday's actions were not deliberate; therefore, one of the criteria employed to judge intentional interference was not satisfied and U2 Gibson was correct to withhold the 6.05(m) call.

As in any rule that requires an umpire's judgment of a player's intent, the official must err on the side of considering the runner's actions unintentional unless overwhelming evidence suggests otherwise. Furthermore, Rule 6.05(m) requires this evidence be of an "obvious" nature.

For an instance of Rule 6.05(m) enforcement, consult this play in which R1 clearly—and obviously—interferes with F6's attempt to complete a play. After umpire consultation, U2 Iassogna correctly invoked Rule 6.05(m).


LeydenBlue said...

"As for the third, one argument concerning Holliday's foot slipping in advance of second base is plausible and accordingly, it is plausible that Holliday's actions were not deliberate"

Did you see how far behind the bag Holliday ended up? He had no intention of sliding into second to reach the base safely. His slide was a deliberate attempt to break up the double play; he said as much in the postgame interview.

Even if you want to insist that Holliday's slide did not constitute interference by the letter of the rule, do we really want to see violent take-out slides like this at second? The way Holliday went into Scutaro's leg, I was afraid he was going to break his ankle. Scutaro was set up behind the bag. How about erring on the side of protecting the fielder from bodily harm?

Anonymous said...

I think that is why middle infielders and their managers get homicidal when they don't get the "neighborhood call". If they are not going invoke the rule on Holliday, then they feel they need some protection. ACLs and torn labrums and fractured legs take a while to heal. Holliday will likely get one in the ear flap next year.


UmpAtty said...

There is no rule support for the statement that there must be "overwhelming evidence" of intentional misconduct.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm overwhelming = "very great in amount" , obvious = "easily perceived, incontrovertible, beyond doubt." I'd say it's obvious that overwhelming applies here.

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